Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:
Dear Families of Westport Students:
Our community and the world has lived through a series of holidays since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Whether religious or secular in nature, we have all made tough decisions about the safest means to carry on traditions associated with them. Unfortunately tough decisions remain as we head into the fall and early winter holidays. I respectfully ask that you join me in making safe plans to celebrate the upcoming holidays, especially if including family and friends is to be considered.
Below is a list of the major holidays arriving shortly on our calendars. While not an exhaustive list, and certainly one that doesn’t take into account other celebrations such as anniversaries and birthdays, it does remind us of the dates and days of the week these holidays will take place.
Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020, is not a national holiday, but it is a day when schools are not in session. It is important for all of our students and families to remain vigilant with the use of mitigation strategies outside of school. (social distancing, mask wearing, etc.)
Halloween – Saturday, 10/31/2020
Halloween’s arrival this Saturday is an exciting time for those that celebrate the holiday. It is a time when children and adults revel in costumes depicting such a wide range of characters. The highlight for most is displaying these creations to friends and family while trick or treating or gathering at social events.
Yet, during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, following traditions of the past could create major issues of viral spread in our schools and the greater community. With this in mind, I urge our families to follow Halloween Guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Public Health (DPH) and Halloween Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adhering to the recommendations of the DPH and CDC will significantly decrease the possibility of COVID-19 spread through our students, staff, families, and neighbors.
Thanksgiving – Thursday, 11/26/2020
While Halloween is just days away, Thanksgiving is not far behind. Thanksgiving often marks the start of the holiday travel season for many families. Whether traveling to share a meal with friends and/or family in town, across the state, or across the country, gatherings of any size with others outside our immediate households increases the risk of COVID-19 spread.
The CDC has developed Thanksgiving Guidance to help families plan for safe means of celebrating the holiday. Should traveling out of Connecticut during the Thanksgiving break be an option for individuals or families, it is critical that guidance from the Connecticut Travel Advisory be reviewed and followed upon return to Connecticut. Strict adherence to self-quarantine and testing protocols found on the travel advisory website will significantly decrease issues of COVID-19 spread through our students, staff, families, and neighbors.
Within a short few weeks after Thanksgiving comes Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. Each holiday has it’s unique traditions, and what is common among all of them is that they have multiple days associated with them. Specific guidance about celebrating the December holidays has yet to be shared by the CT DPH and the CDC, but it is likely the recommendations will be similar to those developed for Thanksgiving. Of critical importance is for individuals and families to consider guidance with respect to gatherings and whether or not the Connecticut Travel Advisory will impact plans as well. Below are the specific days and dates for the upcoming December holidays.
Hanukkah – Friday, 12/11/2020 – Friday 12/18/20
Christmas Eve – Thursday 12/24/2020
Christmas – Friday, 12/25/2020
New Years Eve – Thursday, 12/31/20
New Years Day – Friday 1/1/2021
Finally, Westport has done an amazing job minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and in our community. It has not escaped me that we have only had one instance of closing a school, albeit for one day because of the need for contact tracing, for COVID-19 related issues. Our success is based on our collective efforts to follow mitigation strategies throughout Westport, and to maintain open lines of communication with local health officials and school administrators when addressing potential infection issues. Continuing this approach, and following DPH and CDC guidance with respect to the upcoming holidays, will assist in our mutual goal of avoiding outbreaks and associated spread of COVID-19 in Westport.
Superintendent of Schools